Category Archives: courage

Situational Awareness MATTERS. Well done, gents, or “I love a happy ending!”

A story guaranteed to warm the heart, but also to remind us that at any time, at any moment, someone with evil intent, a mental breakdown or a psychotic episode can endanger not only ourselves, but innocent people around us. Now, more than ever, paying attention to our surroundings and the people in them is an important thing. Be aware of your surroundings, be aware of the people in them, and be aware of what to do in case an emergency occurs!

Don’t be one of the ones who cowers, closes your eyes and hopes for the best. DO something! The life you save could be your own.

Well done, gentlemen. Well done, indeed.

http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2018/08/03/delta-passengers-restrain-unruly-passenger-threatening-to-take-plane-down.html

A call for reason, a call for using your most powerful weapon – your MIND.

Friends, you know that here at The Takedown, I have pledged that I would not post things “just” to post them. I would not post syrupy, sappy “Oh hey, here’s what I had for breakfast this morning” or “Hey, I got a new puppy!” kind of posts. The premise is that The Takedown would be a place in which things of meaning would be brought up, and so it will be with this post. It will probably be a lengthy one, but I hope that not only will everyone read it, but that they will all realize that it is speaking to every single one of us. This post, although it will touch on political matters in a general sense, is not a “political” post.

I have walked this Earth for close to 50 years (although I have one friend, in particular, who claims that it’s closer to 600 or so – he keeps changing the total on me!) and in all that time I have never, and I do mean never seen the levels of downright, hysterical, “drive your funny car right off the cliff without looking back” derangement going on since the last Presidential election ended. Now, it is important to stress that whatever your political affiliation is or is not, whether you like the President or do not, whether you are Republican, Democrat, Centrist, Independent, Lunatic Fringe – this is something that affects all of us. WE, as a nation, are suffering and will continue to suffer if this continues. 

  • We have sitting government officials and representatives calling for violence (and make no mistake – violence is what is being condoned, here, no matter how veiled the words) against those who support the current administration.
  • We have public officials being denied service and harassed, openly, in public simply because others don’t agree with them. (Imagine, for a moment, people doing this in the previous President’s administration, or ANY other President’s cabinet in the last 20 or so years, or to members of his cabinet. Yes. It’s a double standard, and a glaring one.)
  • We have a news media that seems, 24/7 to do nothing but predict doom, gloom and trash any and everything that the President and his administration does. (Although it has never been perfect, I can remember a time when the media was a lot less biased, and certainly less openly biased, than it is now)
  • Perhaps most frightening, large groups of people seem to have abandoned any and all ability to have rational, intelligent discourse with people who have opinions different than their own and in many cases, as has been reported in media outlets, have resorted to verbal and physical abuse against those with whom they disagree.

This is America? Land of the free, home of the brave? The Great Melting Pot? Not from where I stand. The question is, why? WHY is this happening, and more importantly, what can we, each of us, do to stop it and keep it from spreading and getting steadily worse? What is happening is beyond simple disagreement. It’s evil at its base, and evil in its nature. Yes, it’s from an episode of a TV show but I remember two things that Mr. Spock once said that I find to be very true, in life: “Evil seeks to maintain power by suppressing the truth” and “Without followers, Evil cannot spread.”  The Boot of Truth is that WE – you and I – in whatever capacity we are able to be – need to not allow the Truth to be suppressed, and we need to not be followers. We need to have the courage to go against the flow and speak up when obvious mistruths are being spread, and when people are reacting, on emotion, rather than responding from a point of reason and information. At the college a few days ago, I overheard a rather heated conversation and watched a woman in her 20’s literally become so agitated and so overwrought that she could not stand still during a conversation. The reason? She was ranting about “The President is separating children and putting them in cages!!!” and the instructors that she was speaking to were pointing out, quite rightly, that first of all, the pictures being used had been manipulated, in some cases, and in others were pictures from previous administrations who had either begun that policy or were continuing it. The current President was doing the same and continuing the policy. Yet, the more reason they injected, the more agitated she became until she was literally clenching and unclenching her fists and hopping from foot to foot, not listening to what was being said and just repeating her statement, like a mantra. At that point I stepped into the conversation in support of the others and then asked what area of work she was going into. She replied she wanted to go into social work. I then said, calmly, that speaking from my experience as an EMT who works with the public, if she had no better self-control or emotional control than she was displaying here, it may be wise for her to consider an alternative career. After all, I may have very strong feelings about certain issues, but I cannot let that be on display or get in the way when I am serving someone else. That isn’t why I’m there and it isn’t an appropriate time. The room got very quiet. She laughed and sputtered something about learning how to control herself in classes, later on, at which point I began pointing out all the obvious clues that showed she was emotionally overwrought and upset from a simple disagreement. I then said “Self control cannot be taught. You have to choose to engage it.” I then withdrew. I took a chance, surely, but I felt compelled to speak up and say something, and hopefully it stuck with her, or will come back to her at a later point. I refused to be a bystander. All in all, it was a fascinating, yet disheartening example of people who use only their feelings, their emotions, and act on them without bothering to get all of the information that’s available. (And yes, it goes both ways, and I’m aware of that. This is an example – not a be-all, end-all) 

Friends – as I said before – whatever your political affiliation, whatever your stance, PLEASE, for your sake and all of ours, use and engage your intelligence. Don’t just act on emotion. Don’t take what any one news source says as the Gospel truth. Search out other sources as well and make as informed a decision as you can. Use REASON, not EMOTION. We are seeing where people are waking up and realizing that this is getting out of hand and are beginning to move away, and that gives me hope, but it’s not enough. Perhaps the hardest of all, remember a quote from “As a Gentleman Would Say,” in dealing with some people that you will encounter out there:

Capture

Sometimes, unfortunately, you do need to know “when to say when,” as it were. For some people, there is no reasoning with them, and those people are better left to discover their way on their own.

I hope this made sense, my friends. God bless.

 

An item of remembrance, and one of rage that should motivate us all

As the title suggests, this is going to be a two-fer, today. As one item is a note of remembrance, I’ll start with that.

On June 9, 2017, we bid farewell to a man who I believe can properly be called an icon; Adam West. Whether you know him from the Batman series from the 60’s, or his MANY roles and voice work in television and movies since then, the man truly took his popularity and embraced it, parlaying what originally was seen as typecasting into a rollicking career in the years that followed. (Everything from the Mayor of Quahog, Rhode Island, in Family Guy to the part of a superhero called The Gray Ghost in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series) Rest well, Mr. West. You will be missed, and thank you for the memories and laughter you gave us over the years.

Now on to the second point. I had the great misfortune to read a news article detailing charges being brought against a mother for having left her two toddlers in a closed, locked car for a number of hours while she spent time with her 16 year old “male friend.” The children, unfortunately, died but what is worse, even than that, is that  people in the apartment knew DAMNED WELL WHAT WAS HAPPENING and even went so far as to repeatedly tell the mother she should do something because they could HEAR the children crying, and yet did nothing further than that. Yes, you read that right. From the accounts thus far, no one called the police, no one smashed out a window on the car, no one did anything further than keep encouraging the mother to actually take care of her children.

The children were in the car, overnight, for a total of FIFTEEN HOURS.

No one did anything to help those children. No one.

Friends, if this story doesn’t leave you shaking with rage, I honestly don’t know what to say. Sad enough that these two children died from such neglect, but to think that the people around knew what was going on but did nothing to help simply boggles my mind.

If you take nothing else away from this, please – I beg of you – take this with you. Determine, right now, this moment, to not be a bystander. If you’ve never considered it before, let this article shake you out of that mindset and make you realize that there is real, tangible evil in this world. Determine that you will not stand for it – you will not simply turn your head and say, “Nope. Not my problem. I’m not getting involved.”

I leave you with this quote from Yehuda Bauer, which I have quoted before. It was made in reference to the Holocaust, but applies whenever any of us encounter a situation in which we have to make a choice to do something, or turn away and do nothing:

“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”

15 hours of suffering. Two children dead at the end of it. Was the mother to blame? The courts will determine that.

I can say, absolutely, that the ones who KNEW what was happening and yet did nothing, carry guilt as well, as surely as if they’d locked the car and left those children there.

God go with you today, my friends. Please – DON’T be a bystander.

 

Hello all! I’m still here! A thought for today, and something to ponder.

Hello, faithful readers! I am still here, though I have been more silent as of late because my EMT classes are rapidly coming to an end, and I am down to the wire as I approach the dates at which I will test out for my certification.

I trust and hope everyone is well and I appreciate the fact that not only do you still come to check the Takedown, but I see new people are coming as well! That is a great compliment to me, and I truly hope that things are found here to encourage, uplift and make people smile.

I want to leave you with this thought, today, that I am sure has shown up in other places on the Takedown, but that I ran across and it struck me just as it did the first time I saw it. The quote is from Yehuda Bauer, and is also the image that accompanies this post. It says, simply:

“Thou shalt not be a victim, Thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but above all, Thou shalt not be a bystander.” 

The quote speaks of not standing by and allowing injustice (TRUE injustice, not the manufactured “What can we be enraged about today” stuff we see on TV) and evil to be done while we do nothing. That same idea is referenced in a poem by Maurice Ogden called The Hangman. A remarkable video was done of the poem, and I include it below.

“…I did no more than you LET me do.”

Think about it, long and hard. God bless today, my friends.

 

YOU ARE IMPORTANT. BELIEVE IT!

Today’s post is a serious one. It stems from having read of two recent suicides in the news, and the thoughts that came to me after reading of them. As many of you who have been readers of The Takedown know, I have lost friends to suicide and it has had a great impact on who I am and what I believe. The sticky post – the first post anyone sees when they come to this blog, in fact – is a post of encouragement to one who may be feeling alone. It’s that important. I’ll open the blog with one of my all-time favorite quotes from the original series of Star Trek. In the scene, the Captain is expressing doubts about his course of action and Leonard “Bones” McCoy, says the following:

“In this galaxy, there’s a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in all of the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all of that… and perhaps more, only one of each of us. [pause] Don’t destroy the one named Kirk.” (Italics and bold added by me)

It’s a powerful statement. Think of it and refer to it as I continue. I mentioned suicides in the opening of the blog but before I begin, let me make a couple of things clear. It is not my intent to, in any way shape or form judge the person or the action, and I won’t tolerate comments that do. I know I’ve been there and have had those thoughts but, by God’s grace never went through with it.  I can’t imagine what must finally be the breaking point that causes a person to take that final, fatal step. I just know that all too often, it happens, and all too often, I don’t believe it needs to.

The first being that of a student in Texas named Thomas Klocke. Amid allegations that he had harassed a gay student, after apparently being denied due process in the most egregious fashion, and faced with what he perceived as the end of his career and/or ability to continue his education, he took his own life. He was set to graduate, had no prior mental health issues or problems on campus – and now is dead.

The second is the death of Aaron Hernandez, convicted of murder and serving a life sentence without parole. Whatever we may think of him or his crime, whatever we may believe or not about the rumors of why he did it, one inescapable fact remains. Something drove him to such despair that he ended his own life.

Friends – it’s as simple as this, and something that we all need to hear and be reminded of. YOU ARE IMPORTANT. YOU ARE THE ONLY “YOU” THERE IS. There is only one thing in this world worth giving your life for – and you can find it in John 15:13 (“Greater love has no one than this; than someone lay down his life for his friends.”) There’s nothing – NO THING – on this planet worth your life unless it is the life of another person. No job, no relationship, no amount of money, no anything is more important than remembering that you are the only you there is. You are important because you ARE. Because you EXIST.  You can’t know what effect you have had or can have in the future. Have you made mistakes? Welcome to the club. Have you screwed up relationships? Join the human race. Committed crimes? Done bad things? Welcome to being human. It doesn’t define who you are, or what you can be. 

Thomas Klocke’s career wasn’t worth his life. What an example, an inspiration he could have been had he stayed and fought – stood his ground and refused to be silenced.

Whatever remorse or secrets or anything else that Aaron Hernandez may have felt or may have had weren’t worth HIS life.

Take the above quote – the one from Star Trek – and insert YOUR name instead of Kirk’s. “Dont destroy the one named…” 

Remember that you are important!

God bless, my friends!

 

There are more kinds of glasses than “Rose Colored”

Most of us, I am fairly sure, have heard the expression that deals with wearing “rose-colored glasses.” In essence, the expression deals not with optimism or those people who are optimistic, but with excessive or unrealistic optimism. (Kind of like the difference between giving people the benefit of the doubt and the old joke about seeing the priest/pastor/rabbi coming out of the brothel and someone saying, “Ahh, one of the poor ladies must be dying.”) The comic that follows this one originally came from a collection that was created to show the shortcomings of modern “feminism.” However, when I read it, I realized that the same image could be used to illustrate something much more profound, if you will; namely the joy-sapping burden that so many carry with them every day that causes them to be perpetually angry and unhappy with how they perceive (operative word – perceive) the world. I’ll post the comic below, then follow up with my comments on it.

SQUzkps.jpg

As I read it, I realized that you could take that same comic and insert any of the outrage du jour “causes” that are around today, and have them apply just as well.

  • Racism? To the person who chooses to see racism in everything, it would have things like: “White guys enjoying what they got on the backs of black people” (Guy with the phone); “Why is the darker colored guy the only one working?” (Guy putting up the poster)
  • LGBT Activism? For those activists, it would be things like: “Denying her true feelings to ‘fit in'” (Woman with baby); “Straight couples obviously ignoring the gay man and excluding him” (the couple, talking, with the third guy sitting alone, looking at his phone)
  • Extreme, judgemental “religious-ness” (and I’m a professing Christian, so believe me, I’ve seen it.)? To the person who sees everything in terms of morals and self-righteous judgement of others, it would have things like: “Obviously either a whore or gave up on her marriage” (Woman with baby); “Shameful the way they’re flirting and trying to hook up in public” (man and woman talking on bench); “Disgusting poster, and that man putting it up so others can ogle it;” (man hanging poster)

And on, and on, and on…..

I think you get the point I’m trying to make. You may be saying, “Ok, then what’s the point? Where’s the encouragement? Where’s the Boot of Truth?” It’s right here. In each and every one of the examples given, the viewpoint taken is not only unrealistic, but it’s a choice. You can just as easily choose to NOT see the world that way as you can choose TO see it that way. IS there racism in the world? Of course there is. Unfortunate as it is, it’s a part of humanity, and it’s one that deserves to be fought. Does that mean that everything that happens to one group of people is a RESULT of racism? No, it does not. IS there misogyny in the world, and are there women who are treated unfairly? You’re damned RIGHT there is. (It’s a pity that so many of the self-proclaimed feminists are so vocal about how “horrible” it is here in the USA, and yet so dead silent on how women are treated in Muslim countries, and others, but that’s another post.) Does that make men universally evil, universally the enemy, and every bad thing that happens to a woman the result of misogyny? No, it does not. In each of those examples, an extreme stance has been taken – one that makes everything that happens a result of whatever it is you say you’re “fighting against.” It literally consumes you and alters your perception of the world and the people around you.

Friends, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There ARE legitimate causes in this world. There are legitimate injustices and evils to fight against. Each of us has a limited time on this earth, and we need to be careful and cautious about what “cause” we choose to give our time to. We also need to keep one of Nietzsche’s most famous statements in the forefront of our minds while we do:

“He who fights monsters should see to it that he, himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

Whatever cause you fight for – whatever evils you stand against – don’t let that make you see them everywhere you look. Don’t become that extremist. Don’t let yourself be swept along by those who want to hijack a good, valid cause, and turn it into a hammer while anyone who doesn’t agree with them is turned into a nail.

Have the courage to stand and say “No. The ends don’t justify the means, and this is going too far.”

God bless, my friends!

 

What real courage is – and what it isn’t

This has happened before – I had a long, involved post all ready to go that dealt with courage, and what real courage was, and wasn’t – and then I was brought up short by encountering an article like the one I am going to link here. (The main focus isn’t on Colin K, but instead on another) Friends, I tell you true – read it. I guarantee you will never be the same again. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Trust me.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/439479/colin-kaepernicks-national-anthem-protest-was-cowardly

What an incredible story, and an incredible man, for a man he WAS. In every sense of the word, Henry Johnson was everything that the Colin Kapernicks, Beyonces, Hollywood Elites and countless others who scream about how “unjust” the very country that has made them multi-millionaires many times over are not, and in all likelihood never will be. It becomes even more pointed a lesson when you now read that Mr. Kaepernick has graciously decided to stand for the National Anthem this upcoming season. Why? Surely it’s not because he’s a free agent and has become poisonous to any and all who might consider picking him up. Oh no. Per his own words, it’s because he doesn’t want to “detract from the positive change that he believes has been created.” Now, while only God can know his true motives, it has been noted that it does seem fairly suspect that his timing just happens to come right now.

Lest you think I’m just on an anti-Kaepernick rant, follow along with me for a second, and you’ll see the point I’m going to make. In the book The Virtues of Captain America, the author is illustrating the trait of perseverance and says the following:

“Holding certain moral values and acting on them doesn’t mean much if a person doesn’t stand up for them through thick and thin. People may do the right thing, maybe even often, but if they do it only when it’s easy or convenient, it speaks little of their devotion to their ideals. The true test of a person’s character is how regularly he or she exhibits ethical behavior and under what pressures he or she continues to do so.” 

Now let’s assume for a moment that the general consensus about Mr. Kaepernick’s motives is so (and, truthfully, haven’t we seen that a lot, in a lot of different areas and from different people? They hold to their principles until; until they might lose their job, until they might lose their position, until it might cost them sales/money), and he has decided to no longer kneel for the Anthem because he’s concerned about it affecting his career.

Ask yourself: Is that courage? Is that conviction, and adherence to his ideals?

Is it, really? Or is it, instead, what the world calls “courage” – the type that is so because it agrees with some current political or social trend? The kind that’s disposable, once it no longer serves a purpose?

I would say no, it’s not, and I believe that 99% of you would, as well.

Friends, it’s a simple rule of existence – courage, REAL courage, costs. It’s not a thing that you “put on” when it’s expedient or convenient, or to score political points or social standing, and then “take off” when it looks like you might catch some heat. It’s something you do. It’s something you live. It is, as Sir Winston Churchill said when speaking of the battle against the Nazis, “Victory – victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.” It means standing, even when you stand alone, even when all you own and have worked for may be threatened – because what you are standing for is RIGHT. (Note I said RIGHT – not “socially acceptable,” not “PC,” not “whatever the currently manufactured source of outrage happens to be”)

Cap nailed it, I believe, when he said the following:

doent-matter-what-the-press-says-doesnt-matter-what-the-politicians-for-mobs-say-america-quote

I’m with you, Cap! 

And Mr. Johnson, for your service – thank you. I pray that when you stepped into Eternity, you were welcomed into peace and rest.

God bless, my friends. BE COURAGEOUS TODAY!

 

The Good Samaritan – or – “Compassion isn’t just for work hours”

I have found that the more I try to make impacting, detailed posts on The Takedown, the less I end up actually posting things. I think a lot of that is because that when I do that, I focus more on how I’m saying something; how witty/engaging/emotionally engaging it is as opposed to what it is I’m saying. I forget the statement made by the Ghost in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir when he said, “This isn’t a blasted literary epic!” In future, I’m going to try and heed that simple advice and, God willing, end up with more posts that are meaningful and encouraging, even if they, too, aren’t “blasted literary epic(s).”

Anyone else remember the Good Samaritan? I remember the story well. It’s been used as an allegory for everything from warning children not to walk alone on dangerous streets to why it is that we should unconditionally accept refugees, to why we should accept universal healthcare. Many of the newer interpretations of the story, however are, unfortunately, dead wrong. At its base, and when you strip away the religious overtones of the story, what you’re left with is a very good look into the two basic types of human beings that exist in the world. You have those who are, primarily, out for themselves, and those who are not. Those who focus on their desires, their goals, their needs, and those who put the needs of others ahead of their own. Sadly, those people – those “Good Samaritans,” are also often the subject of ridicule and scorn by people who may feel that they are a rebuke to them. They’re characterized as “do-gooders,” “superheroes,” “crusaders,” and generally out of touch with reality because, after all, no one REALLY does that because it’s the right thing to do, do they?

Saddest of all, I have (and am) encountering it in my work in the EMS field. I encountered it when I obtained my First Responder certification, have seen it on the job, and am encountering it now as I take my courses to become an EMT. ‘Don’t go out of your way,’ the popular thinking seems to go, ‘because you could get sued and lose everything.’ ‘Don’t stick your neck out because if you do, you could lose your job.’ If you’re on the clock and covered by your agency, that’s one thing – then you HAVE to do it – but outside? No way. Hide the fact you’re an EMT or Paramedic. Don’t stop to help. Like the Levite and the Jewish priest in the story, they would advocate passing by on the other side of the road, so to speak, because it’s more important that you keep everything you have and have worked for than it is to help and possibly take the chance of being sued.

Well you know what? I’ll take that chance. I hope you would, too. The lives that were saved by people who jumped in to help – many with no training and certainly without proper body substance isolation and the like – at the Boston Marathon bombing – were saved by people who made the choice to be human and to fulfill their ethical and moral duty to their fellow man instead of backing away and saying “Hey, not MY problem. I’m not taking the chance!”

Friends – compassion and caring don’t only apply during business hours. The whole reason that we have Good Samaritan laws (sounds familiar, right?) is because people were passing by and not helping out of fear of lawsuits. People MAY laugh. Let them. People MAY think you’re all those things I named above. Let them. Those same people, I’ll wager, will be looking for someone like you if the day comes they’re bleeding their life out on the side of the road and the ambulance is nowhere to be found.

I close with this quote, taken from a story in which the man of steel, Superman, testified on the behalf of a group of superheroes who were accused of harming someone while stopping a villain. It’s never been more appropriate. I hope it never applies to myself, or to any of you:

“It’s a little sad, when you think of it – I can’t help thinking that someday, someone isn’t going to answer a call for help because they’ll be afraid; afraid of the lawsuits, the publicity, the cost – not in human lives, but in dollars and cents.”

Don’t be afraid. Step in and help, and do the right thing.

God bless, my friends.

 

I’m back! Encouragement for today – never stop trying to make a difference, to yourself and others

Man, what a busy couple of months this has been. Between the normal things of summer, a funeral for a friend’s mother, and the number of hours I have been volunteering at the local ambulance corps, it seems like I’ve been hitting the ground running almost every day.

You know what, though? After almost 13 years of being a home dad with 2 special needs kids, it feels good. Sure, I was busy with them, their schooling and making sure that the school system did what it was supposed to do where they were concerned, but it wasn’t the same. This is just – different. How? I don’t know if I can put it into words but I’ll try.

Working at the ambulance corps has taught me a lot about myself. It’s forced me to move out of my comfort zone (a zone that is reinforced by the fact that I fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum, and so it can be very hard for me to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar) to make new friends and learn to work and be part of a team again, and it’s also taught me that being older isn’t the same as being DEAD.

Did you catch that? It’s not. I was 44 when I received my certification as a New York State Certified First Responder. 44. I am working with a lady (and I am proud to call her that, too, as well as one of the most phenomenal friends I have ever been blessed to have) who is 30 and is a paramedic. Most of the other people in my class were significantly younger than I was. It would have been easy to just back off, drop out and say “Nah, I’m too old for this. Too old to change, to stick my neck out. I waited too long/started too late.” MAN am I glad I didn’t! I would have missed out on so very much, not the least of which was learning an entirely new skill set in order to be certified!

In the short time that I have worked with the Corps I have personally participated in:

  • Helping to ease the worry and concern of people who needed to be transported to the hospital, generally by informing them that I’m the driver and I “won’t do a stitch over NINETY” (That never fails to make them laugh) or some remark about running people off the road if I have to. (That gets a chuckle, too)
  • Reassuring those in distress that we will give them the absolute best care we can, and also to help the families realize that and ensure they know how to get to the facility to which we are bringing their family member
  • Learning to use the ambulance both in non-priority (no lights and sirens) and priority (lights, sirens, and the whole 9 yards) calls, and the safe way to do both. (Contrary to popular belief, you don’t just hit the lights, hit the sirens and stomp the gas)
  • Resuscitating a man who had gone into a full blown cardiac emergency (we’re talking no pulse, heart stopped, the works) and by the grace of God, giving him more time to live and hopefully get those things corrected that had caused it to happen

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Guys, gals, aliens from other planets – whoever is reading this – if you take nothing else away from this, take this away. Until the day comes when you stop breathing for good, it is never too late. It’s never too late to make a positive difference to someone else, or to yourself. It’s never too late to make a change in your life, to pursue a dream, or to learn something new.

The only one stopping you, many times – is YOU.

So, what do you say?

God bless, my friends.

“Fat is Fabulous?” … Enabling vs. Tough Love vs. “Shaming”

This one may get me in trouble.  I concede that. Hopefully people will read this completely, to the end, and not just assume what I’m going to say and switch off. If you choose to, well, hopefully you’ll come back.

A few things I am NOT going to say:

  1. Fat people (or “morbidly obese,” to use the medical term) are all lazy, shiftless, good for nothing’s who care nothing for themselves and are too lazy to stop shoving food in their face. That’s a broad brush statement, and, in some cases is simply not true. I am well aware that there are legitimate disabilities, physical and genetic challenges, as well as side effects from medications and other issues that can make weight gain almost inevitable, and weight loss VERY difficult.  (The flip side of that is that, far too often, that is used as an excuse for being morbidly obese when such conditions do not exist, but I digress)
  2. Fat people deserve to be made fun of, shamed, put down, and otherwise ostracized in public, and at every chance. NO. There are only two groups of people that I believe deserve to have the above things done to them; pedophiles and rapists. (At the risk of sounding belligerent, if that makes me a bad person, I don’t know what to tell you. I’d rather you think me a “bad” person than a dishonest one.) Other than that, I don’t engage in or support the idea that by shaming people, we’ll make them better. There are far too many studies to list that say the exact opposite, especially as concerns people who are already obese. Feel free to do a search for “Does shaming work?” and draw your own conclusions. I never claimed to be the voice of God, after all.
  3. Fat is anything over your BMI. BMI has been shown to be misleading, outdated and in some cases, even dangerous. There are too many factors to being healthy then can be shown in a simple “height vs. weight ratio.” (In point of fact, my own cardiologist told me that should I ever reach MY BMI, he’d be concerned for me because I’d most likely look like a scarecrow) There’s a difference between “plus size” and “obese.” I don’t define healthy (nor do many, actually) by the airbrushed bikini model, or the Barbie doll.
  4. Being fat is o.k., healthy, and if you say anything different, you’re a bigoted, narrow minded hater and you just can’t stand to let people live their own lives.

Like most, you were probably with me until we hit number 4. Number 4 may enter the realm of “Ouch! Wait a second” because it requires two things that seem to be in short supply in our society today  – the ability to show tough love, and the ability to not engage in enabling. Too many people believe that “unconditional love” means you accept every single thing about a person, good and bad, and never, ever say anything about the bad because, if you do, well, you don’t love them unconditionally.

Well, no. That’s not true. It’s not true from a social standpoint, nor from a moral standpoint, nor even from a psychological standpoint. As the image associated with today’s post says, “Unconditional love doesn’t mean you have to unconditionally accept bad behaviors.” The hard reality of life is that being obese is not healthy. It’s not good for your body. It leads to increased chances of far too many health problems for me to list here. Feel free to check them out yourselves: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/risks

So what’s the Boot of Truth? The Boot is this – I am not, for a moment, suggesting that we stop every obese person on the street and start lighting into them about the harm they are doing themselves, or the ticking time bomb that is going to go off in our health care system as all these obesity related health issues come to pass. Not at all. People STILL have to choose the life they live. I am, however, saying that we can take a stand against the Social Justice Warriors who try and spread the lie that if you don’t agree that “Fat is Normal, Harmless and Beautiful,” you’re some kind of bigot by refuting it with facts and refusing to go along with it. Shaming someone is not the same thing as telling the truth, any more than quoting crime statistics makes you a racist because in some areas of the country, more blacks are killed by other blacks than they are by other races or ethnic groups. I AM saying that if you have loved ones or friends who are seriously overweight, love them enough to say something. (In the case of friends, I would also add the caveat that it depends on the level of friendship and trust you have with them. Not all friendships are the same, or of the same depth.) That tired old trope about the husband sleeping on the couch because he spoke about his wife’s weight may be good in a TV sitcom, but will it be as funny if someday, you’re looking down at her in a funeral home because she died of a weight related illness? Wives, would it be worth it if it’s your husband who died FAR too early of a massive heart attack/stroke because he was overweight and “Oh well, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings” or even worse, “It’s not my place to judge.” Would it be worth it were it a friend whom you loved dearly but to whom you never said anything, for the same reasons?

HERE’S A HOT NEWS FLASH – IT’S NOT JUDGING SOMEONE TO LOVE THEM ENOUGH TO POINT OUT WHEN THEY ARE HURTING THEMSELVES. I, personally, have buried far too many people who, had they had someone who cared enough to speak to them (and to be fair, they had chosen to listen), may have lived longer. Not saying something and allowing someone to continue with self-destructive behaviors or harmful behaviors, whatever they may be, isn’t love. It’s enabling. (Do a search for Compassion vs. Enabling. It’s eye opening, believe me)

As much as I find the web page “Rational Wiki” to be distasteful in many respects, I agree with these statements, with which I’ll close:

“Studies have shown that actually shaming obese people really will do nothing to encourage them to lose weight, and will probably make matters worse by provoking comfort eating and other negative psychological effects. The problem comes when HAES (Health At Every Size) advocates interpret genuine, well-intentioned offers of support from medical practitioners or family members as “shaming”, refuse to recognize their obesity as a problem or refuse to even recognize their obesity exists or can (or should) be defined as existing.

There is also nothing intrinsically wrong with self-acceptance, but balanced self-reflection and self-criticism is also an important component of normal psychological well being — “I hate all of myself entirely and I am awful” and “I unconditionally love everything about myself and I am perfect” are almost as unhealthy as each other, while HAES would have one believe that the latter is the right approach, ignoring the more sensible middle ground of reasonable self-critique. Similarly, an obsession with weight and calorie intake to the exclusion of all else is extremely unhealthy (indeed, that is more or less the definition of an eating disorder) but that isn’t what anyone (least of all a doctor) would rationally advocate or is advocating, and it certainly doesn’t mean that completely ignoring calorie intake or weight is a good idea. The real solution is to do what humans are meant to do; eat a sensible, balanced diet rich in vegetables and complex carbohydrates and low on (not entirely without) sugars and simple/refined carbohydrates and processed foods.”

Thank God I have a wife who cares enough to watch out for me, and I for her. Can you say the same, if not about a wife or husband, then about a friend? Do YOU care enough about them, or they about you, to be able to speak to you in love and compassion, or do they have to enable you, or you them, in order to show they “really” care about you?

Think about it.

God bless today, my friends.